March Seal of Excellence

Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction. This book stands out from all the others reviewed that month, in the magazine issue and on the website. March 2015’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Tessa Bailey’s super hot new adult, Chase Me.

“From the second we meet hardscrabble Jersey girl Roxy, I was hooked! Chase Me‘s heroine is one tough cookie, which makes watching her tangle with privileged playboy Louis McNally the Second tremendous fun. But even aside from the playful banter and sizzling sex scenes, Chase Me tells the story of a bold, resilient woman attempting to build a life for herself, all on her own. The thought of opening up about her struggles — to her roommates or to Louis — makes Roxy run for the hills, but lucky for her, she’s got new friends and a new man who are more than willing to chase her. Bring on the HEAs for Honey and Abby!” — Regina Small

“Tessa Bailey’s Chase Me starts off with a hilarious premise and doesn’t back down. Louis is sweet, considerate and charming, but takes control when he needs to (most notably in the bedroom, ahem). Roxy was flat out hilarious, and while her experience as a broke 21-year-old in NYC wasn’t 100 percent realistic, it worked with the story and allowed for plenty of priceless moments between her and her roommates, and of course her and Louis. Most importantly, Bailey captures the all-too-familiar feeling of being young and struggling in a place that will relentlessly swallow you whole, but takes time to show how exhilarating that time in a person’s life can be. I haven’t felt this compelled to read a new (to me) author’s entire backlist based on one book in a while, but here we are. Apologies to my Kindle.” — Elisa Verna

“There are so many reasons to love Tessa Bailey’s Chase Me, but the absolute best thing about this romance is the hero, Louis McNally the Second. He could’ve easily been a trope-a-rific rich playboy with a heart of gold, but he’s so much more. I have not swooned this much over a romantic hero in … maybe ever, actually. He’s not the perfect boyfriend — he screws up plenty in the first few pages alone — but he owns up to his mistakes and he learns from them, not at the end of the book, just in time for the HEA, but throughout. And then there’s Roxy, the delightfully spunky leading lady. Her prickliness is the perfect counterpoint to Louis’ bumbling earnestness without pushing her over the edge into unlikable heroine territory. And of course, the sex is amazing! It doesn’t push the envelope or delve into kinky territory; it’s simple and realistic, yet somehow feels like a seven-alarm fire. If my life were a romance novel, this is the one I’d want it to be. And if I thought donning a pink bunny suit would somehow land me my own real-life Louis, I’d happily hop to it!” — Jennifer Peters

Here are the other books we considered for our March 2015 Seal of Excellence Award:

“Coffee cart owner Robby has a serious crush David, one of his most loyal customers. When David surprises Robby by showing up at the local Pride festival, their relationship takes a sudden turn. But can they find a happy ending when David is holding back? Annabeth Albert’s Served Hot is as delightful as it is hot. Albert writes with natural ease, resulting in a smooth narration, extremely developed characters and a plot that never becomes over dramatic. The only problem is that the book is a bit short, but with two companion stories on the way, I’m not complaining too much.” — DJ DeSmyter

“In the first official Puffin Island book, First Time in Forever, Sarah Morgan introduces an amazing cast of islanders who’ll leave you desperate for more books in this series. Emily and Ryan both had emotional, believable character arcs that make you root for them. Emily comes to the island in need of protection, but she’s no damsel in distress. With the entire island trying to play matchmaker for Ryan and Emily, when they finally do get together it’s hotter than a summer in Maine. This is the kind of book that has you longing for a beach and some blueberry ice cream. A guy as hot as Ryan wouldn’t hurt either.” — Sarah McDaniel Dyer

“Reading a Lauren Oliver book is always a treat, and the creepy, unsettling — and ultimately shocking — Vanishing Girls is no different. Of particular note is the setting, much of the book takes place in an amusement park, and the way the venue is at times fun and crowded, then suddenly deserted and creepy is a testament to Oliver’s skill. I won’t say much else, lest I spoil things for you, but if you want to shiver on a warm summer night, give this one a try. ” — Elissa Petruzzi

“Meg Donohue takes readers on a ride through an array of emotions with Dog Crazy. The author tackles rather serious subjects with grace while providing readers with moments of hope, humor and, of course, four-legged companions. Though this novel of loss and personal struggle exceeds a simple story about man’s best friend, readers will definitely find themselves longing for the company of their own Tobys and Billys and sympathize with Maggie and Anya, or anyone really, who knows what it feels like to lose a dog — and more.” —  Danielle Valente

Congratulations to the winner and all of the nominees! You can find all of our Seal of Excellence winners here.

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